As at least the Boat count's going the right direction, doubling in size at Tri Cities, with another cherished Hull to break cover at Seattle before the Gold Cup potentially sees the largest armada 'O Hydros' this season...
2017 PROVISIONAL FIELD
No. Name Driver Team Base
U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank Jimmy Shane Madison, IN
U-3 Griggs Ace Hardware Jimmy King Evansville, IN
U-9 Les Schwab Andrew Tate Enumclaw, WA
U-11 J&B Hydraulics Thom Thompson Edmonds, WA
U-12 Graham Trucking J. Michael Kelly Milton, WA
U-14 Centurion Racing Dave Warren Burien, WA
U-16 Oberto Beef Jerky JW Meyers Arlington, WA
U-21 Paine Webb Insurance Brian Perkins Maple Valley, WA
U-27 Dalton Industries Cal Phipps Gadsden, AL
U-440 Bucket List Racing R-Dustin Echols Snohomish, WA
U-57 Spirit of Detroit Cory Peabody Detroit, MI
U-99.9 Leland presents Miss Rock Kevin Eacret Kirkland, WA
And Thar Off...
The 2017 H1 Unlimited season kicked off in earnest last weekend at Tri Cities, on Warshintons' "Mighty Columbia," when the HAPO Columbia Cup was contested on July 30th in Pasco, Washington for the 52nd time; being the first points race of the season counting towards the National High Points Championship.
As the year's first event at Madison, Indiana was a four boats exhibition Heat race event which Andrew Tate won aboard the U-9 Auxier Marketing presents Delta/Realtrac, which is now my favourite boat, since it does the multiple sponsorship dance en route to becoming the Les Schwab tyres entry for the two Warshintonion' races...
Interestingly, at the time I wasn't aware that JW Meyers was substituting for Cal Phipps aboard the U-27 Dalton Industries Wiggins Racing Hull, as reportedly Phipps had an obligation with his "day Job" he couldn't get off.
Thus Meyers got the nod in what was effectively a "Tune-up" run for his normal Hydroplane cockpit, the U-16 Oh Boy Oberto Ellstrom Racing boat, for which he'll returned to Unlimiteds action after a five year layoff!
And perhaps it's the Heat? As the Tri Cities Water Follies events seem to have a habit of fueling controversy, as last year's was a Doozy! When one Contendah' was wrongly penalized, whilst Fans went home apparently thinking the wrong boat had won...
Yet when I think of the Columbia Cup in recent years, my mind immediately slides over to that wet 'N wooly 2015 Gold Cup event I listened to via Zed Internetz' - when "Captain KuhNuck," aka Jean Jumpin' Jaques Flash" Theoret who was allowed to run the entire five lap Gold Cup race in P1, take the chequered flag and begin his "Hat Dance!" Before being Disqualified (DSQ) for a DMZ violation during the five minute "Milling" period prior to the green flag.
Thus it was Theoret's Bosom Buddy Jimmy "The Champ" Shane, in the U-1 Oh Boy Oberto! (Miss Madison) who'd been early to the line and had to back -off, seeing the entire field roar by, who ran down then second placed J. Michael Kelly aboard the U-5 Graham Trucking, with the pair going deck-to-deck in the final laps before Shane passed Kelly in his former mount on the final lap to ultimately win the Gold Cup! His second consecutive victory of the APBA 'Ol Mug.
HOLY RACE REVERSALS BATMAN!
Yet hang on to your 'Ol Hollyhocks', as good 'Ol Derek Daly would say! As I was totally unawares' until Friday's testing day of this year's event via the Tri Cities Herald, that Jimmy Shane and the Miss HomeStreet Bank were reinstated as the winner's of last year's Columbia Cup race sometime last December, when the APBA ruled in favour of the Miss Madison team's appeal. With the win becoming Shane's fourth consecutive Columbia Cup victory.
Although ARSE-Sumedly J. Michael Kelly and Graham Trucking gave the trophy back and didn't punch anybody, Yuhs know like 'Ol SuperTex did to the Flying Dutchman Wayback at Texas Motor Speedway in '97...
2017 Columbia Cup
This year, the Gold Cup reverts back to its traditional home of Detroit on Aug 27, making the Tri Cities event just the plain 'Ol HAPO Columbia cup, which featured a sparse nine boat field, when I began scribblin' this.
Whilst the Detroit weekend's sure to impress, as Thar' apparently copying El Capitano's (Roger Penske) Belle Isle IndyCar Double Header format. As this year will see the first ever running of two H1 Unlimited races on one weekend, when the President's Cup trophy returns on Saturday, followed by the Gold Cup on Sunday...
Yet since information was slowly forthcoming upon the past two year's fastest Hull's decision to skip the Tri Cities race. Only finding out via the very obscure source deck2deck.us on the Friday's testing day that the U-16 appeared to not be attending the Columbia Cup.
Naturally I was disappointed that the U-16 Oh Boy Oberto was skipping this year's Columbia Cup event which Ellstrom Racing announced on their website sometime Thursday, July 27th.
As I was looking forward to this Dark Horse "Sleeper" Hull mixing it up with those B-I-G BOYZ' as Thy late Awntie Harriet enjoyed calling 'em.
Thus on paper, it appeared this year's HAPO Columbia Cup would be a Shootout amongst the apparent top three combatants: the U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank, U-9 Les Schwab Tires and the U-12 Graham Trucking, for which I cannot help but think that's some sort of symbolic nod to the past great U-12 Miss Budweiser's, eh?
Now turning into somewhat of a "Rubber Match" between J. Michael Kelly and Jimmy Shane, who both won last year's event! Whilst Andrew Tate looks to spoil their Tug 'o War,.
And potentially the presumed crowd favourite, the only piston powered Hull in the fleet, the U-3 Griggs Ace Hardware driven by thee "Other Jimmy," aka Jimmy King can improve upon its third place finish of last year.
With NO Disrespect towards the other four entrants, in numerical order, the U-11, U-21, U-440 and U-99.9, I simply don't know enough about these boats, which seem to be of lesser caliber then the others named above. they appear to be lacking in resources, equipment or the unspoken factor, top flight personnel.
As Tate was the fastest qualifier on Friday, the only boat eclipsing the 160mph mark, with Shane second fastest, Kelly third and King fourth.
Saturday's first Heat was a bit of last man standing, with Heat-1A initially being "Red Flagged" after the U-440 hit rough water, augured-in and left debris on the course!
Tate won Heat-1B, virtually unchallenged, with second place Thom Thompson's U-11 being disqualified.
Heat-1A resumed with Brian Perkins getting the jump for the lead before Shane passed him, and then Perkins U-21's propeller cracked, throwing it's weakened blade - taking out the propeller strut and rudder, most likely ending their race weekend, with Shane winning the Heat.
Kelly won Heat-2A aboard the U-12, while Heat-2B pitted Shane's U-1 vs. Tate's U-9, with Shane getting the inside lane at the start, proving to be decisive as he held off Tate who ran closely behind...